6 MAY 1938, Page 58


THE past week has been characterised by a stream of contra- dictory messages from Malaya concerning the policy of the Malayan Government towards the proposed Buffer Tin Stock- s proposal to build up a stock of z5,000 tons of tin and use it to keep the price as far as possible between £zoo and £230 per ton. The price of tin has meanwhile fallen below £160 per ton, so that the proposal becomes more inviting as it becomes more unattainable to many producers who would not normally countenance devices for controlling the market. It is clear to them that to prevent the price from falling still further there will have to be a drastic cut in the present 55 per cent. quota, and they hope that their contributions to the buffer stock might be a partial offset.

The truth of the contradictory reports seems to be that the Malayan Government has not turned the scheme down out of hand, though it might have been wiser to do so, nor has it refused to hold a referendum of the producers. It has merely insisted on its being made clear that contributions to the buffer stock shall be part of the existing quota and not an addition to it. The main issue remains unsettled, and until it is settled it is not possible to fix the quota for the July-September quarter. Neither that inconvenience nor the present deterioration in the tin position should tempt Malaya into a hasty acceptance of the buffer scheme. The disadvantages of a permanent system of market manipulation, and the difficulties of disposing of 15,000 tons of tin at some future date far outweigh any temporary

advantages. * * * *